Butterhead lettuce – Vegetable garden
Butterhead lettuce is also called cabbage lettuce due to its round shape. It gets its name from its ‘buttery’ taste and velvety texture, and small loosely formed heads. Its leaves are loose round heads with delicate green to cream-colored leaves at the center. Butterhead lettuce is usually deep green, although red varieties exist. Butterhead lettuce comes to maturity in 65 to 80 days, it can be very sensitive to high and low temperatures.
Scientific Name: Lactuca sativa var. capitata
Common Names: Butterhead lettuce or Buttercrunch Lettuce.
How to care and grow Butterhead lettuce?
It thrives best in cooler temperatures, desiring full sun in cool weather and light shade in warmer weather.
It grows well in fertile, well-composted, medium moisture, well-drained, nitrogen-rich soils with a pH of between 6.0 and 6.8.
It prefers optimum temperatures are between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures rise to 75 and 80 degrees, the lettuce plant will try to flower and produce seeds, which is not good if you want to harvest your lettuce. Grow this plant in the cooler months for the best results. Temperatures above 27 °C (81 °F) will generally result in poor or non-existent germination of lettuce seeds.
It grows best with consistent watering throughout the growing season. keep the soil moist but not soggy water. Bitter leaves are an indication of excess heat, over or under watering, and over maturity.
Lettuce prefers soil that is high in organic material, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Use organic alfalfa meal or a slow-release fertilizer.
It can be easily propagated from seed. Start seed indoors about 6-8 weeks prior to last spring frost date. Seed may also be planted directly in the ground about 2 weeks prior to the last spring frost date.
Additional seed may also be planted in the ground from the last spring frost date to mid-June at two-week intervals for purposes of extending the harvest season. Plant seed in late summer for a fall crop.
Pests and diseases
Aphids, flea beetles, slugs, snails, leaf miners, and whiteflies are common garden pests found on lettuce plants. You may also have problems with fungal diseases if you water lettuce plants too much.
Butterhead lettuce comes to maturity in 65 to 80 days. For the best flavor and crisp texture pick lettuce when you need it and use it immediately. The smallest leaves are tender and delicious as baby lettuce in salads. Utilize these leaves when thinning young plants in the garden. As the plants develop, you can harvest the outer leaves only, leaving the inner leaves to develop. Or, you can remove the whole plant if you desire a head of lettuce. Cut heads at the crown simply above soil level. By cutting the plant at the base and leaving the roots to grow, new leaves will sprout, giving butterhead lettuce a cut-and-return again quality.
Varieties of Butterhead Lettuce
- ‘Bibb’ is a traditional butterhead with a smaller, compact head of short dark-green leaves with dark-red edges.
- ‘Boston’ has a medium-large head of loosely arranged broad light-green leaves.
- ‘Buttercrunch’ is very tender and does better than other varieties in warmer climates.
- ‘Four Seasons’ has red outer leaves and inner leaves with a pink and cream color.
- ‘Bronze Mignonette’ also known simply as ‘Mignonette’ is a very old, butterhead-type lettuce. The globular heads have frilled leaves that are green-on-bronze colored with hearts that are creamy colored. The plants are small, compact, and it is slow to bolt and suitable for hot weather.
- ‘Dynamite’ is the cream of the butterhead crop, a standout for sweet flavor, beta-carotene payload, and unprecedented, take-on-all- comers blight resistance. Packed with overlapping soft, rounded scrumptious leaves.
- ‘Tom Thumb’ Lettuce is unusual mini butterhead lettuce that produces heads about the size of a baseball, ideal for individual salads. Dark green, somewhat fleshy outer leaves wrap around a creamy yellow interior. Tom Thumb is excellent summer lettuce as it resists bolting better than larger varieties.
- ‘Yugoslavian Red’ is the most beautiful lettuce with bright-green cupped leaves splashed with rosy-red, this butterhead type makes a visual and flavorful splash in the salad bowl. The taste is superb, buttery, and mild. Loose heads grow to 12 inches across and can be harvested in about 55 days.
Benefits of Butterhead Lettuce
- Butterhead lettuce is a good source of flavonoids, water-soluble polyphenolic molecules that serve as antioxidants that prevent lung and oral cavity cancers. It is also beneficial for pregnant women because it contains folates, which prevent neural tube defects to the fetus.
- Butterhead lettuce is loaded with minerals that are important to your diet. It contains both copper and iron, which help your body produce red blood cells. Also, it contains potassium, which helps regulate your blood pressure and controls your heart rate. Manganese
is another mineral found in butter leaf lettuce that works with antioxidants to help rid your body of free radicals and other harmful
- The thick sweet leaves of butterhead lettuce add a good dose of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate to the diet. The high water content of about 95% and low-calorie count make this and all lettuces a healthy diet choice, with the darker and greener lettuces carrying more nutrients than the lighter colored ones. Vitamin K, found in a healthy amount in buttercrunch, has been found to play an important role in bone health and is thought to reduce the incidence of hip fractures. It also provides a good dose of Vitamin K, which is essential for the proper clotting of blood.